Happy Father's Day!Here he is: Steven Michael Cannon, with his first daughter, Laura.
He was born in 1955, and he died in 2005 at age 50 from lymphoma. If my dad were here today, he would have a sleek Apple computer, an iPad 4, and all of the family history apps. He would work in the Family History Department at the Church, he would have read Thomas S. Monson’s biography and the latest David McCullough novel, and he may have finally convinced his own dad to take a sailing class with him at the Great Salt Lake. He would be looking forward to a family reunion with his thirty-something nieces and nephews. He would be glad to finally have three sons (even if they are only in-laws), and he would have visited me in Oklahoma and enjoyed a good root beer at Pops.
Today, thinking about my dad, it strikes me how similar we were. My dad never pushed me to follow in his footsteps, but he was very pleased when I, of my own initiative, took up similar interests and experiences. For example, my dad and I were both Sterling Scholars in mathematics. I went to BYU (his alma mater) and majored in mathematics (his minor). We’re tidy, more introspective than talkative, and we laugh heartily at a good joke.
In 9th grade, I announced to my parents that I wanted to join the Cross Country team. Apparently, my dad had run in high school, too. To get me to and from the twice-a-day practices, my dad drove me and my bike to school every morning at 5:30. I ran, went to classes, ran again, and rode my bike home. (At least it was downhill!) When I quit Cross Country in 12th grade, I kept up my morning runs . . . with my dad and our dog.
Hungry for more outdoor adventures, I joined the Mountaineers Club. My dad joined with me. He came on our hike to Lake Blanche in the Wasatch, and we canoed down the Jordan River together. While my friends planned graduation trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas, I planned a backpacking trip to Capitol Reef National Park. We tackled Mt. Olympus and Mt. Timpanogos together, too.
Just before I turned 21, I announced that I wanted to go on a mission. My dad, delighted, was certain my choice would bring blessings to me and my family. I went to a Spanish-speaking mission in New Jersey. Every week, I received a page-long typed letter from my dad with scriptures, encouragement, and . . . lessons from his own mission to Argentina.
When we found out my dad had cancer, I took off a semester of college to help my mom take care of him. I was 24. One of my sisters had just left on a mission, and the other was attending Southern Utah University. It was hard to watch my dad get so sick. He didn't complain much; he was just very meek.
I love reminiscing about my dad and smiling about the fun things we did together! I miss him - I wish he could have come to my college graduation. I wish he could have met Alvin and Miles and Clay. But . . . I know he is aware of me and cares about me. I imagine he is very busy and happy in heaven. And I KNOW I will see him again! He will always be my dad, and when we are reunited, our relationship will resume and grow stronger throughout eternity.
P.S. Now I have an amazing stepfather. He just biked 300 miles from South Jordan to St. George, Utah. I love him! But that is a story for another post.